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December 2, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review May 9, 2013/ 29 Iyar, 5773

Real beauty, Dove, really?

By Meghan Daum



http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | (MCT) Chances are by now you've seen "Real Beauty Sketches," a video released a few weeks ago by the Dove soap people. It documents a social experiment: Women describe themselves to a forensic sketch artist, who draws them from behind a curtain. Then the artist draws the same women based on descriptions from people who've only just met them.

The accounts don't exactly line up. "My mom told me I had a big jaw" turns into "she was thin, so you could see her cheekbones." "I kind of have a fat, rounder face" turns into "she had nice eyes."

Saturated in soft, silvery light and accompanied by a moody, minimalist score (think "Friday Night Lights" when the team loses) the subjects are shown the sketches side by side and, eyes misting up, admit to the artist that their self-appraisals were hindered by poor self-esteem.

"I should be more grateful for my natural beauty," a woman named Florence says earnestly, adding that beauty "impacts everything (and) couldn't be more critical to your happiness." The screen fades to white and this message appears: "You are more beautiful than you think."

Although a lot people claim to have been genuinely moved by the project, some of the professional commentariat have been less generous. They've deemed the women too young, thin and light-skinned to represent the "real." It's also been pointed out that labeling big jaws and round faces as undesirable is insulting to people who have those features.

Then, of course, there's the dark irony that the folks behind all this self-love also have a profit-making interest in encouraging a certain amount of self-loathing. Remember Dove's original "Real Beauty" campaign? The one with ads featuring average- and larger-sized non-professional models posing in their underwear? The one that purported to subvert standard notions of beauty by showcasing bodies of all shapes and sizes? Dove was flogging cellulite cream.

Back in 2005, I called those ads not only hypocritical — by claiming to celebrate ordinary bodies while selling products meant to improve them — but also discomfiting. For a lot of women, seeing "regular" female bodies on a billboard felt a little too much like seeing themselves in public in their underwear. And because those bodies were objectified as much as any other mostly naked female body on a billboard, it had the whiff of a personal violation — or at least self-consciousness — you just don't get when you're looking at a professional model.

"Sketches" isn't that squirm-inducing. The women aren't splayed across the side of a bus in their skivvies. They're fully dressed and speaking in their own words. Still, I found the video discomfiting. I couldn't stop thinking about how the kinder, gentler sketches were based on cues from women being asked to describe another woman's looks, someone they might meet again in the process of making the ad. Wouldn't you put the most positive possible spin on things?

The subject could look like Ursula the Sea Witch from "The Little Mermaid" and the operative phrases would still be "smooth purple skin" and "shapely tentacles." And that is because there is no greater taboo than criticizing a woman's appearance to her face. There is one acceptable answer to "Do you like my new haircut?" or "Does this make me look fat?" — and its relationship to the truth is irrelevant.

Conveniently, all of the "Sketches" women easily meet culturally sanctioned standards of attractiveness. None of the video participants was forced to thumb through a thesaurus looking for a nice way of saying "has three heads." And, to Dove's credit, this "Real Beauty" campaign has started some useful conversations about mediated womanhood and the real thing.

But the problem with being told you're more beautiful than you think is that you're still being told that beauty matters a lot. And though there is a sad truth to that, it belies the politically correct pretenses of the experiment.

"I have some work to do on myself," Florence wistfully tells the sketch artist, referring to the labor of self-esteem-building. It's a poignant moment. Still, what would have been downright radical is if she'd simply looked at her watch and said, "Gee, I need to get back to work."

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

Comment by clicking here.

Meghan Daum is a columnist for the Los Angeles Times.



Previously:

I 'like' me, I really 'like' me

© 2013, the Los Angeles Times

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